Tiger show at Kane County Fair raises concerns, but sponsors say animals are treated well.

·2 min read

Kane County officials say they are concerned about a live tiger show to be offered at the county fair, but have no power to stop it because the event is run privately.

The fair, set for July 14-18, is to feature a Bengal Tiger Encounter, as it has in years past. Residents have been calling the county to oppose the show. They complain that it’s dangerous and inhumane to keep the wild animals in captivity and force them to perform tricks. The sponsors say the show is educational, and they treat their animals well.

Kane County Animal Control Director Brett Youngsteadt said he will inspect the cages and conditions of the cats when they arrive and enforce the state Humane Care for Animals Act and corresponding county ordinance.

“We will ensure that every animal act that comes through this county is treated humanely,” Youngsteadt said. “We will conduct a thorough inspection of everything — animals and enclosures included — as soon as they arrive in Kane County and continue to monitor them while they are in our jurisdiction.”

Animal control workers have inspected the animal shows at the county fair in previous years, but not found any significant violations.

The captivity of exotic animals has attracted more concern after the airing of last year’s hit Netflix “Tiger King” documentary, which showed the dark side of private exotic animal zoos — and sparked memories of Chicago’s own “Tiger King.” But organizers say the show is nothing like that.

Variety Attractions has been booking entertainment for the Kane County Fair for 50 years, and never had a problem with its treatment of animals, owner Todd Boltin said.

“If there was any issue, we wouldn’t book him,” Boltin said. “The best way to judge it is to see for yourself and see how the animals are treated.”

There is no interaction between the animals and spectators, and the show regularly passes inspections by counties and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The man who runs the “Fang & Claw” tiger show, Brunon Blaszak, is a third generation trainer of Sumatran, Siberian and Bengal tigers, and his show educates people about them, Boltin said.

His website states that he and his mother are dedicated to preserving these rare and “magnificent” animals. His show includes walking the tight wire, choreographed leaping and dancing.

The chair of the Kane County Board, Corinne Pierog, emphasized that the fair is not affiliated in any way with county government. She recommended that people urge state elected officials to change the law to give counties the authority to restrict such events.

The president of the Kane County Fair Board of Directors, Larry Breon, and Variety Attractions did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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